Jan. 26, 2021Print | PDF
Artist: Kai Reimer-Watts & Richard Watts
Exhibition dates: Jan. 6 – February 14, 2021
Full Exhibition Details: Robert Langen Art Gallery
In this world, time passes more slowly – and more quickly – than you could possibly imagine. Are you paying attention? As we were waiting, possible futures emerged – flashing their promise, their vitality, their colours – and were either lost or taken. This is how history – the future – has always been written; it is far from inevitable. Will we sit passive as the digital world replaces the real? Or as the real is placed under near-constant siege by out-of-control fires, floods, unbearable heat, unbearable human behaviours, and other cascading disasters? When there is noise all around us, can we still find the right sounds and messages to listen to? What is really “safe” about interfacing through a digital screen if the result is a critical loss of connection?
These questions and concerns are reflected, however imperfectly, through this two-person exhibition – the creation of two artists struggling to make sense of and reconnect with the surreal times we are living in. Videos juxtaposed with luminous sculpture works draw us back to an extraordinary paradox that so many are living in: that while the real world and our responses to it is increasingly made digital, the physical body (our own, and of this fragile planet) is still crying out loud for deep, physical care and attention.
Close your eyes. BREATHE. Feel your physical body; feel the long journey, sitting in the soils, the waters, the very bones and blood of our life-giving planet. Do you know the next steps to take, for where you wish to be headed? In a crumbling world of ever-spiralling chaos, one strategy, ancient as wind, offers a way to transform and repurpose these grim realities into something better: resistance, resilience, and reconnection.
-Kai Reimer-Watts and Richard Watts
Kai Reimer-Watts is a current PhD student in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University, graduate of the Master of Climate Change program from the University of Waterloo, and Director of the feature documentary for climate action Beyond Crisis, “a story of hope for a rapidly changing world” (www.beyondcrisisfilm.com) along with numerous short videos on climate. Kai's research and creative work explores the rich intersection of climate storytelling, the visual arts, movement-building and grassroots activism, centering on the powerful role of ‘signposts’ in both unifying and mobilizing a collective response to our climate change emergency. At a local level, Kai was the student lead for the ‘Climate is Life’ mural project on Laurier's Waterloo campus, collaborating with local mural artist Pamela Rojas and engaging several hundred people from across Laurier in the mural’s creation in Fall 2019.
Richard Watts is a land-based earth artist raised in the midwestern United States and on a family farm. He currently lives in Toronto and Havelock, Ontario. Richard’s art practice is deeply material in nature, challenging the obsession with the digital that has overtaken Western culture by reclaiming a spiritual connection to materials and nature. Recent works explore the current climate change population displacements and predictions of future mass migrations.
Solo exhibitions and commissions include: MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario; Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George, British Columbia; Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario; and the Tom Thomson Museum, Owen Sound, Ontario. Reconnection is a collaborative show with his son Kai – both father and son art practices respond to our human-made ecological crisis, and the reconnection to the natural world that sustains us.
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